Monday, October 30, 2006

A Beautiful Fall Road Trip

Since we had a whole free weekend, we decided to checkout the Talimena Scenic Drive in Southeastern Oklahoma. We'd heard it is beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing.

I actually was able to leave work early on Friday so we left about noon and made it to Poteau.
When we were checking into a hotel room, we found out we had made it just in time for the annual Poteau Balloonfest. The lady at the hotel also informed us that there was a real-sized fair too, like the one at the state fair, not just with kiddie rides and stuff. Too funny! So we went Friday night to check it out but it was freezing and windy so they didn't do the balloon glow show and there were about five people there riding the full-size rides.

We did get to check out the World's Tallest Hill:

(The view from the top- it was really hazy)

We found this gorgeous waterfall up near the hill:

We got up early Saturday to head off to Talihina to start the scenic drive:

Kev went into the woods to take a few shots and came back with a friend:
(This actually happened twice!) I'd never seen a Walkingstick up close before.
And I took a hasty shot because I was afraid it was going to jump on my face.
Did you know they can fly? Freaky little creatures.
And we were off. The whole trip looked like this and prettier...

We got to the end of the Byway in Mena, Arkansas and couldn't decide what to do.
We saw that Hot Springs, AR was just about an hour away and headed there.
It was such a gorgeous little mountain town. My batteries ran out of my camera so I don't have pictures. We stayed at the Arlington Hotel and got to bathe in the hot springs at the spa there. I've never been in natural hot springs before- it was amazing.

We also found a cool little stone store on the way to Hot Springs called the Crystal Seen. I got some neat crystals and an amethist. We talked to the lady there for about an hour- she was very cool and knowledgeable.

This was a gorgeous lake on the drive back:
All in all, it was a great trip. I love spontaneous weekend trip.
I have some fibery pics to post soon!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Recent Reading Binge

So over the vacation I had a lot of reading time...

Why did I bother even making a book list? I keep finding all these great books I left off (and reading them instead.)

Here are a few of the books that I've recently read/finished:

The Alchemist by Paul Cuehlo:
My boss told me I should read this and I really thought I wouldn't like it. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is about a Spanish shephard who deserts the path his parents had in mind for him and decides to become a shephard in order to see the world and chooses to give up everything to chase his dream of finding hidden treasure. The general theme of the story revolves around finding and following your Personal Legacy. The shephard goes on to meet various people who help him fulfill his Personal Legacy.
I wasn't sure if I like this or not through most of the book but at the end I really believed in what the story was saying and found it very encouraging. I would definitely recommend it if you like this type of book. It really challenges you to think about your goals and dreams and the simple fact that you're either pursuing them or ignoring them.

The Zahir, also by Paul Cuelho:
This book follows a man who is obsessed with his extranged wife who disappeared with no signs of struggle. The theme of this book is finding the true nature of love in the world and follows the main character as down his path of discovering the nature of love. I really liked this book. It took me a while to read; I found it was best to me to read a bit then walk away then come back later, instead of veraciously finishing like normal. This book is very rich and passionate and challenges many of the accepted "truths" we believe about love in our society and in this generation. I would also recommend this book.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd:
This was a fairly well-written book following 14 year old Lily, whose Mom was killed when Lily was small. Lily lived since then with her abusive father under the care of her nanny, Rosaline. The book is set in the Deep South in 1963 and when Rosaline lashes out at some pompous white men on her way to register to vote, Lily decides to skip town and follow the only clues to her mother's life that she left behind for Lily. The search leads her to Tiburon, South Carolina where she finds August, May and June- three sisters who she knows have some connection to her mother.
I enjoyed this book and the characters were very loveable. The writing style was very simple and I had the overall feeling that things just worked out a little to easily. On the upside, I learned a lot I didn't know about bees.

The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War:
This book is written by a South African conflict-journalist and follows the lives of himself and four of his colleagues as they risk everything to cover the brutality of South African aparheid in the early 1990's. It follows just a few of the tragedies of that time with brutal honesty and includes several prize winning photos that helped draw attention to the horrid conditions. It also chronicles with brutal honesty the effect this job had one the four of them. The author was shot twice while covering the conflicts. One of the team was killed during a conflict and another couldn't handle the stress of the job in combination with the stress in his life and committed suicide.
I would highly recommend this book. My knowledge of this terrible time was very minimal and I gained great insight through this book as to the cause and effect of apartheid.

Dispatches From the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival by Anderson Cooper
Yes, the Anderson Cooper
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It seems especially fluffy since I read it after Bang Bang Club. I know that the media has it's place, I just hate to see people at their lowest exploited by uber-wealthy professionals searching each disaster area like vultures looking for the prize- the most heinous shot in the area in order to boost ratings.
This book covers some of Cooper's life (His mom is Gloria Vanderbuilt), the loss of his father at a young age, and the loss of his brother in his early twenties. It also describes how he got his start in journalism- on his own with a home video camera covering a foreign war.
Cooper honestly relates his coverage of tusnami victims in Asia, Hurricane Katrina survivors, as well as several wars, while interweaving stories of the loss and tragedy he's dealth with in his own life.
I know it's never safe judging motives, but I can't help but think that through his brutal honesty of things like finding the most grisly scenes that will "relay best onto TV" and searching through starving African shantee towns to find the very sickest baby, his editor felt it necessary to weave in more emotion to make Cooper seem more human.
This book was good in the fact that it gives a first-hand account of an observer in the most horrid conflicts we've seen in the last 5 years. Unless you have a soft spot for CNN journalists.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An Embarrasing Stash Flash

Back from Cancun- it was such a great trip. A bit rainy but we had a lot of fun. I've never stayed anywhere that was all-inclusive before, that's the best way to stay! Decided Saturday that maybe consuming large quantities of guacamole, ceviche, flan and margaritas/mojitos wasn't the best idea.
We did go one day to
Xel Ha, this big natural water park, where there was some awesome snorkeling (it normally freaks me out but the fish were so cool it was worth it.) There were also submerged caves and cliffs to jump off and a huge buffet that was included in the price.
Then we went to Tulum, to see the Mayan ruins. It was amazing. And the beach and water there were absolutely beautiful. I'll post pictures soon!

(Blogger thought all that first part should be one huge link. Oh well, at least I could load my pictures.)

But for now, I'll post pics of my embarrasingly unorganized stash. I finally got it all organized at least by fiber types into containers. Here is the big nasty mess:
And I thought if I'd post some of my WIP's it would motivate me to finish...
This is a tank from Cool Crochet:

Here are some highlights from my stash that I'm not quite sure what to do with:

Some Debbie Bliss Merino DK I got on major sale in Tokyo (Haven't decided what to do with it yet, maybe some wristwarmers?):

This is as far as my sock-making got... I just can't find the right pattern or get motivated enough to give it a shot. I'm thinking about maybe taking a class. The whole task just seems so daunting right now, what with the whole knitting with toothpicks bit and language I mostly don't understand.

Some Lustersheen I got to make a shrug from a Leisure Arts booklet (ala Erica's fabulous one here and here) but couldn't figure out the first part of:

Some Cascade wool/cotton I got on sale last year at SWAK that I also haven't decided what to do with: (thought it might be a nice tank but I don't quite have enough.)

I got this also on sale at the yarn store in Norman last year before it closed but I also don't have any ideas of what to do with it.

Another sale buy. I love this yarn but I don't quite have enough to do anything I want. Any ideas?

I just love this stuff. It's cheap and acrylic-y but for some reason I really like the look and feel of it. I'm close to having enought to make a blanket out of it from this book.

Let me know if you have some brilliant ideas for these, I'm stuck on most of them.

Now the stash is all organized and at least packed away in the back room in tubs.
I bought some cubicle-things and baskets to better organize it all but I haven't had a chance to put it together yet. Eventually the spare room will actually look like a craft space.
Hopefully I'll have pictures of that to show soon!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Questions

I am so excited to be a part of SP 9. This is my first of the SP swaps and I'm really looking forward to it. Here are my answers to the SP questions:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I really like alpaca, soft cottons, and most wool. I'm not a big fan of novelty, furry, or ribbon yarn.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
My hooks are in this little cloth eyeglass case I got in Japan and my needles just get stuck in my BagSmith bag.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting for about a year, but I've been crocheting for about five or so (learned when I was a kid but picked it again as an adult.)
I learned to knit with a good friend at a class at Gourmet Yarns in OKC.
I'd say I'm beginner to intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
In bath products, I like mostly natural scents: Rain, Lavendar and other earthy scents
For candles I really like wintery scents, like cinnamon, other spices, and cranberry.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I love all things sweet, especially chocolate, white and dark are my favorites.
I have jaw problems and can't eat any candy that's too chewy or crunchy.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I crochet and sew (quilt a little bit), but that's about it. There's a lot more I'd like to do but I don't have time.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I can play MP3's, I have an MP3 player in my new car. I also have an Ipod.
I have really eclectic taste in music. I mostly like mellow 70's, lots of 80's, some country, some alternative and indy rock. I mostly like mellow/acoustic sounds.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I mostly like earthy colors, also like deep reds and deeper blues and purples and some soft pinks. I don't like most yellows or oranges.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married, no kids or pets

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I do wear scarves, hats sometimes, no mittens or ponchos (but I've really been wanting to try out some fingerless gloves.)

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Baby blankets and scarves have been my favorites, but I'd really like to branch out and try more clothing items and socks.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Still re-working Mom's Green Gable but there are several things I want to start.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes I love them.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Circulars. I love Addi's the most, also like Bamboo and some cheap plasticky ones called Balene. I'm not a huge fan of aluminum.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, I have a winder and it was such a great purchase. I don't have a swift but I haven't really needed one so far.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Ooh, I haven't dug in that pile in a while. I think I have a baby blanket in there that I started crocheting about 3 years ago.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love being together with family, with all the celebrating and traditions and jovial craziness.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Yes, I collect cool wine glasses and handmade pottery coffee mugs.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I don't subscribe to any knitting magazines. I haven't really kept up with the new knitting books so none come to mind.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to learn entrelec and lace knitting. I also need to learn to cable, I was looking at the Lion Brand Cabled Arm Cosies pattern to learn cables and make some fingerless gloves.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I haven't tried knitting socks yet but I really want to, I just don't quite know where to start.
My foot is 10 inches long and about 9 inches around the middle of my foot.
I wear a size 9 regular shoe.

23. When is your birthday?
September 18

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Rest of the Destin Pics and Hasta La Vista!

So here are the rest of the good pictures from the family vacation to Destin. The place was absolutely beautiful and a great place for family vacation. We stayed close to the SanDestin side and there was always a ton of stuff to do. We stayed on the water and spent most of the time on the beach (the 7 and 4 year old neice and nephew were loving it) and ate some wonderful seafood.

The top shot and the one below was from a great resturaunt, Captain Dave's on the Gulf.

The first night there, we ate at a seafood/pub place called McGuire's and watched the sunset while the bagpipes were playing Amazing Grace to "tuck the sun in bed." It was really cool.

Somehow I was convinced (Krispy Kremes were involved) to go check out the sunrise under the Destin Bridge. It was amazing.

This was that same morning and I was mesmerized by this group of about 11 hermit crabs doing this wierd dance where when the water serged in, they would all gang up on one crab then with the next surge they did it again to a different one.

All in all, it was a really great trip. The weather was beautiful, the beaches were the sandiest white I have seen in the states.

Speaking of which, we found a really great deal on a trip to Cancun and leave tomorrow. We're going with our friends who are pregnant with twins and I'm looking forward to a great trip.
Been brushing up on the Espanol. Ha!

In knitting news, I am addicted to multidirectional knitting. I found an old pattern, the Multidirectional Scarf, (from a link and gorgeous pic on Tracy's Blog) and I'm loving it! I dug out some Noro Kureyon that Wendy gave me in the CV Secret Pal swap last year and it's gorgeous. The colors are amazing. Will post pics soon.